• Pretending to Know Stuff Vol.5

    Attachment 4036Welcome back for another edition of Pretending to Know Stuff. The unlimited or constructed “Meta” – what is in RIGHT NOW. What’s still in the Meta, what joined the Meta from the most recent set, and what from the most recent set can help combat the Meta. This column will be full of bias. I can’t help it. I will favor stuff you don’t, and I will inexplicably fail to mention something you think is amazing. The comments are a place to politely point out where you disagree and let me know what I might have missed.

    Well thing have got interesting, haven't they? The PDC events already under wraps have given us all much to think, read, and talk about. I expect more of the same from those yet to come. I think the variety of cards on winning teams tells us that there is very much a healthy list of viable cards to use in highly competitive events. My own experience at two PDCs (one a top-4 performance, the other winning a poorly attended event) tells me that piloting, more than anything, makes all the difference. That is an astounding-sounding thing when you think about the fact that you're building a team of 10 to face over 1100. The combination numbers just get crazy, so we don't need to go there, but with over 1100 cards available, you have to pick 10. Is it really all that surprising that knowing exactly how your cards and abilities interact with opposing ones is the difference in most games? Here, I want to make the case that this is precisely what we should expect, and not so much something that should surprise us.

    Clearly Guy Gardner rush (with or without Big Entrance) is a thing that should be prepared for. Whether you're running a similar team or not, learn to play against several iterations because chances are you'll see one in competition. That's not a bad thing, it's just that failing to be prepared for a deluge of attacking characters, half of whom get stronger with each other attacker is not a situation you want to find yourself in. I didn't play against a Guy rush team in either event, but I saw them, and they were effective. So what's your strategy to deal with this early pressure? Distraction? Field more characters than can be Relentless'ed? Plan on Magic Missiling off characters for mitigation? Zombie Magneto? Board clear like Hulk? Mera? You have significant options, you just have to know which to bring, and what to use when. How much damage can you take? What ramp can you sacrifice? Are you OK with having Sidekicks in the field or do you prefer to use them to ramp? Know and act - testing will help you determine what is better for you and the team you're running. There isn't an easy answer, but it is as simple as that.

    What are you doing about the Rare Lantern Ring? I saw this in most of my games. Then again, most of my games in one event were either against @Randy (who used it) or @Hath (who didn't). I had played against the ring enough in testing to know how to get around the damage it would be bringing. If you do the same while playing with the ring, you'll learn ways to get around some of the mitigation tactics you'll see, such as Captain America - Super Soldier and Iron Fist - The Immortal. If you're playing against the ring, you must know when it is adventageous to take damage, and if so, how much. Multiple times I used Iron Fist's ability and reduced the damage from attacking characters supported by the Ring and then used the Human Paladin global to reduce the remaining damage to take 1. Why? It's a free trigger for my Hulk in the field. If the choice was between ramping and probably having lethal next turn versus preventing all damage but sacrificing ramp, then the choice is often very easy.

    Parallax. What a punk! I have loved this global from the start (even the ridiculous initial gut check interpretation that it might let you reroll opponent's fielded dice, which would have just made things silly). But as I have said before, I'm far more likely to run the Mera Global (which I have a love-hate relationship with). But here's the funny thing about competitions, you can't be sure what you'll run into... I have only seen one other Mera in competition, and I have seen a LOT of Parallax. Sometimes Parallax worked out, sometimes it didn't, but what I was fascinated most with was seeing some players know exactly how much energy could be spent on it versus those who burned an entire turn and sacrificed ramp and missed out on the characters they wanted or needed most anyway. The difference between bailing out to salvage the game and committing to chance is not totally dissimilar to having a reasonable limit when entering a casino and getting a cash advance on the credit card. Ok that's probably a stretch, but it illustrates the point. Meanwhile, I was guilty in one game of failing to save a mask for Mera's global even after committing to do just that in testing and even earlier in the turn. Habits are hard to break!

    Control favorites are still alive and well - Jinzo, Human Paladin, Hulk, Zombie Magneto, Constantine. Are you ready to play with or around these abilities? Tsarina and Gobby have made some appearances as well, but it seems as though there's enough space in the meta for more than just the old staples. So what's shaking in your neck of the woods? Are you happy with the changes you're seeing or has something new and unexpected given you a real surprise? Best of luck in your upcoming events. You may not need as much luck as you think if you've prepared appropriately.

    Comments 14 Comments
    1. zeon20's Avatar
      zeon20 -
      I'm conflicted with guy. I'm not a fan of the turn 3 kill style, but I'm also a proponent for variety so while I don't welcome him with open arms, I'm happy to have him n the meta just so I can take on something other than tsarina for a change lol.
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      These articles about the "meta" have been very useful to me, and your conclusions about the ultimate edge being piloting match up with my experiences. I have been beaten in a game against a deck I was sure was the weaker deck, because they were both my decks. My friend had not brought a deck, I loaned him my spare, he kicked my....knee, that's right, knee (family friendly here, right?).

      I believe I said something about this in a previous comment but it doesn't hurt to repeat good information. With RLG in the meta, my go to card is Namor Atlantean, the Uncommon from UXM, currently selling on line for about 50 cents. My local Meta (6 whole guys) remains fascinated with any "toys", expect Goblin Glider to get a work out around here. I needed a counter and most of us really started playing around UXM and there was Ol' Pointy Ears. He is only slightly weaker than the WoL Batman, and 1 point cheaper to put on the table at every level. Combine him with Cap SS and Hulk GG for a good counter base for most things. Since they are all Avengers some of the teamwork BACs are useful as well. I'm also trying to construct a deck with Cap, Namor, and Human Torch for an Invaders team deck.

      Thanks again for the updates on play nationally, it really helps add to my local game.
    1. jojodadevil's Avatar
      jojodadevil -
      I call it the Shakespeare team that won my pdc. It used two viscous struggles and stab himself until I died.
    1. Zephernaut's Avatar
      Zephernaut -
      I can't believe how dominating Kingpin - We Do Not Speak His Name has been at the two events I have gone to, beat Guy rush with the help of Constantine and Lantern ring without removing the ring from the field. Mera global and Human Paladin to help stop that.
    1. Stormyknight's Avatar
      Stormyknight -
      I am happy to see the guy Gardner decks doing so well. I hope people don't forget about polymorph with these decks running around. It's a great way to get something out without having to wait on drawing it!
    1. Jwannabe's Avatar
      Jwannabe -
      Love these articles. As someone with 0 meta currently this keeps my brain engaged.
    1. Jthomash2's Avatar
      Jthomash2 -
      Thanks for the feedback. @zeon20 , I can't wait to see your Dragons vs Guy! I agree, a varied meta is a good meta. @StrangeBrew action hate in any form is worth investigating. If you've found what you like to use and you know when to buy, field, and/or use the die as energy, you are ahead of the game. @jojodadevil I'm pumped to see the Shakespeare team. That sounds awesome and like a total rush to play (though maybe not play against!). @Zephernaut Kingpin can win, but there are strong counters. Rare Jinzo is the first that comes to mind. Still, typical games do not see multiple Jinzo purchases, and so removal may lessen the sting. @Stormyknight poly is alive and well. Don't you worry! @Jwannabe thanks! Hope you are able to take some of what others are doing back to your local scene. That's what this is all about.
      Next time, I hope to take the excellent work that @archivist is doing with the PDC data and chat about some more specific combinations from winning teams.
    1. Zephernaut's Avatar
      Zephernaut -
      luckily enough, I havn't run into Jinzo yet, but I'm thinking of Slander to counter, take 2 damage once that turn to use globals all I want.
    1. Shadowmeld's Avatar
      Shadowmeld -
      But then what do you do to PXG on your opponent's turn?
    1. archivist's Avatar
      archivist -
      @Jthomash2 - thank you for the shout-out. Stay tuned to the PDC website - I'll be posting an article comparing the World's Top 10 cards with what's been seen in the PDC Top 10. Very interesting trends are evolving.
    1. Ressless's Avatar
      Ressless -
      I like the article , but i would too see in far futur some niche characters, like Breaker the Magical Warrior - Mana Break , Silver Sable-Hero for hire, Maria Hill - Trained Agent

      They are real helpers, when needed and can bring the difference!
    1. IsaacBV's Avatar
      IsaacBV -
      Quote Originally Posted by jojodadevil View Post
      I call it the Shakespeare team that won my pdc. It used two viscous struggles and stab himself until I died.
      This sounds interesting. What else was on the team?
    1. hath's Avatar
      hath -
      Nice article!
    1. Zephernaut's Avatar
      Zephernaut -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shadowmeld View Post
      But then what do you do to PXG on your opponent's turn?

      Generally speaking, if I run into Jinzo, I would switch to a different strategy, but since our local meta has almost no Jinzo's ( I own one of the two), I havn't had to worry about it. I will be designing a whole new deck for regionals though.